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Rosetta probe disoriented by comet dust

6 April 2015 Stephen Clark

Ground controllers are analyzing a fault aboard Europe’s Rosetta spacecraft after an encounter with comet dust confused the probe’s navigation system, leaving the robot explorer in a temporary safe mode and halting regular science operations.

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Black holes may reveal what lies within

6 April 2015 Astronomy Now

The “information loss paradox” in black holes — a problem that has plagued physics for nearly 40 years, since Stephen Hawking first proposed that black holes could radiate energy and evaporate over time — may not exist, according to University at Buffalo scientists.

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Hubble finds phantom objects near dead quasars

4 April 2015 Astronomy Now

The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope has imaged a set of enigmatic quasar ghosts — ethereal, looped structures glowing green that orbit their host galaxies marking the graves of quasars that flickered to life and then faded. They offer new insights into the turbulent pasts of these galaxies.

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BBC Stargazing Live helped amateur astronomers find supernovae

3 April 2015 Astronomy Now

More than 40,000 amateur astronomers working on a supernova hunt run by the Zooniverse team based at the University of Oxford, in collaboration with BBC Stargazing Live, found five supernovae and catalogued two million unidentified heavenly bodies found by the SkyMapper telescope in Australia.

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Curiosity rover eyes prominent mineral veins on Mars

2 April 2015 Astronomy Now

Two-tone mineral veins at a site NASA’s Curiosity rover has reached by climbing a layered Martian mountain offer clues about multiple episodes of fluid movement. These episodes occurred later than the wet environmental conditions that formed lake-bed deposits the rover examined at the mountain’s base.

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Curiosity’s Martian nitrogen find raises possibility of ancient life

31 March 2015 Kerry Hebden

Nitrogen, in the form of nitric oxide (one nitrogen atom and one oxygen atom), has been detected for the first time on the surface of Mars by a team of researchers using the Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) instrument suite aboard NASA’s Curiosity rover, adding to the growing speculation that life could have once flourished on ancient Mars.

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Race to detect gravitational waves intensifies

31 March 2015 Astronomy Now

One of the great challenges in astrophysics is the detection of low-frequency gravitational waves — elusive ripples in the fabric of space-time caused by extremely energetic and large-scale cosmic events. To this end, the National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded the North American Nanohertz Observatory for Gravitational Waves $14.5 million over 5 years.